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Two Poems by Heberto Padilla

HOUSES

I can never avoid, at the most unlikely times,
the vision of houses I lived in as a child.
Some, I remember, were far from ugly, but I didn’t love them.
I wanted to build a box-room,
a wooden passageway
with deep hiding places
where I could bury my arrows, my secret stones,
my treasures.
We were always moving from one house to another
(in childhood and ever after).
And what good did that do me?
None at all. I kept them a few years
and then I forgot them.
Porticos, staircases, walls,
knives ruined with rust,
photographs of birthdays and baptisms,
start up in my memory,
much like a rush of sea, leaving me salt-stained,
the way waves do.
Shipwrecked houses, lost houses.
Castor, my old sea-dog,
howls all the time from his various corners.

NOTE

For those in search of the wonderful, I have very little
to contribute. I have no magic powers. I don’t envy those
with a particular magic.
Neither am I interested in windows
with a transparent text which I decipher
or which deciphers me.
It’s enough for me, a Brancusi stain on the wall,
words that spring to my tongue when I speak,
neutral words, deprived of all illusion.
They shine, not because I polish them with steel wool.
I find them all over the place, lying in the street,
happy idiots, the way children are.

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